I thought that I had blogged about this before, but I can’t seem to find it in my archives, so maybe I’m wrong. One of my all time favorite Christmas traditions is from Spain, specifically from the Catalan region around Barcelona, and it involves something called Caga Tio.
I couldn’t make up a stranger Christmas tradition if I tried. Seriously.
Catalan families go into the woods and find a Christmas Log (Tio de Nadal) to bring into their home. It’s painted or otherwise decorated with a face, and wrapped in a blanket. Over the weeks before Christmas, the Caga Tio is fed sweets and other treats, in order to get him ready for the command performance on Christmas. After weeks of being fed, the Caga Tio is ready. He is then beaten with sticks by the children of the family until he poops out treats for the children, usually in the form of the Catalan treat called turron. Yes…the log poops out the children’s treats, which they then consume. Caga Tio literally translates into “Pooping Log”.
For whatever reason, the Catalan people are somewhat obsessed with scatology and Christmas. Their other big tradition involves the Caganer, a figure that is included as a part of the traditional Nativity display. As you can probably guess from what you now know about Caga Tio, the Caganer is literally a “pooper”, a figure that is caught mid-defecation. It’s actually considered an honor to be made into a Caganer figure, although it made news when President-Elect Obama was so honored in Spain this year.
There are dozens of videos of the tradition up on YouTube, but here’s one that is nicely put together that illustrates the tradition.